Playing with palettes

How do you select colors for your drawing or painting? Do you make a palette first? I would expect YES.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I started from the opposite site. When I grabbed colored pencils as an adult, I did so with my eyes closed, wondering what it would bring to my drawing. It was surprisingly good and harmonious, which encouraged trust in my own intuition, neglected for many years.

Later I choose colors more consciously, but the old habits continued to work. In each set of colored pencils I first used the yellow – orange – green tones, probably the colors of my soul. Colors that my intuition gravitates to, whatever I’m drawing. All the blues and purples were piling up almost unused.

Exceptional play with blue, pink and violet colored pencils.

Something changed when I bought watercolor paints two and half years ago. I discovered the adventure of mixing colors and fell in love. Conclusion? I need to work with colors consciously, I need vibrant colors on my pictures.

Colorful flowers – watercolor and Inktense pencils, intuitive color selection.

Recently, I took my old colored pencils and tried to create a range of beautiful combinations just for fun. I spent hours creating them and cannot wait to use them all. I’m not sure yet, but it looks I’m currently leaning towards a combination of watercolor in the base, ink or colored pencils in the final layer to get closer to one of the color palletes.

That’s called evolution, right?

Mushroom in earthy tones. Watercolor background, colored pencils above.

I hope that your life brings you pleasure and the joy of change.

With love and hugs,

Ivana

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How many colors in my palette?

I am celebrating one-year anniversary of watercolor painting. Even in such a short time, I gained some experience, some of which surprised me a lot.

For example, I would never believe how much difference in results paper makes! At the moment, I am still balancing on the edge of price/performance rate, letting exclusive brands for later.

But what about paints? I love colors! Do I need to buy every existing tone? NO!

Today I’d like to share how my experience with color selection developed.

Yellow – most popular, most used

I used three full-pans of yellow in a year! Mostly because of mixing greens. After that I decided to add green to the palette, the yellowish-green to be more exact.

Anyway I consider practical having two yellow pans in the palette at the same time. One for mixing with blue and the other for mixing with red or separate use. Otherwise you will wash the pans and money too often.

Both of my yellows are cadmium lemon – not really cold, but certainly not a warm tone of yellow. Although it is nice to have a warm yellow to mix with red, it is horrible to get a nice green with it!

Originally, I had yellow ochre in the yellow scale. I won’t fill it anymore because it can be easily mixed just like orange.

Red – hell or paradise?

If the cold/warm definition matters somewhere, it is definitely red. I am not completely satisfied yet, but I am in the process of trying. On the warm scale of red I am currently using Ruby (PR 170) and it may be subject to change in the future. I am open to your experience and recommendation.

In general, warm tones of red are suitable to mix with yellow to get peach and orange tones, but it is almost impossible to get nice purple with it. Then you need a cold red, whether it is called rose or magenta.

I have Quinacridone Rose (PR 122) and I am extremely satisfied! It can be beautifully mixed with both blue and yellow, even if you don’t get a strict orange.

Blue – my source of green

As a person, I am not a fan of blue. I like turquoise and love everything green, and that’s what my paintings look like.

Originally, I bought only Ultramarine (PB29) and suffered from trying to mix a nice green. Impossible, because Ultramarine has a reddish tone inside. It is better to use it solo or with magenta/rose.

Soon I added Azure Blue, which is turquoise tone of blue (PB15+PG7). I love it solo and in the mix. There are beautiful tones on both, yellow and red (magenta) scale with it.

Today I added Cobalt Blue (PB28) to the palette, which will replace Ultramarine in the future. Cobalt Blue doesn’t have the reddish tone inside, so it is more suitable for mixing. Hopefully.

What’s left? Not necessary, but sitting there

Brown. Originally, I had umbra in my palette, but I was disappointed with its greenish tone inside. That’s why I used to mix brown from red and black. Today I added Mars Brown to the palette and we will see.

Violet. Easy to get it from Rose and Azure Blue. Anyway I added Quinacridone Violet (PV55) today – to complete 12 pcs and to try.

Black. As I said, I used to mix black with red to get browns, and black with azure blue to get misty green like for eucalyptus or sage leaves.

Gold. Metallic color of the Aztecs for special effects.

So, how many of colors do I really need?

Yellow in two pans, red and rose (magenta), azure blue for sure, cobalt blue perhaps. It makes 6 pans. The other 6 are for pleasure. It means you can get a huge number of colors even on a limited budget.

Then, you can spend the money for high quality paper!

In the picture above you can see factory color codes as well as the code of their pigments. The rest are mixed colors or better to say some of them.

Love and hugs,

Ivana

P.S. Since beginning, I have been using the White nights brand of paints.

Mixing green

Actually, I don’t have any green in my palette, so mixing green is a must. Especially if you love to paint natural motives like I do. Getting the right hue of green then becomes an exciting challenge.

Before I touched watercolors, I had a clear idea. Green? Nothing complicated, just mix yellow and blue, and done! Ha, ha, it didn’t work so easily when came to practice.

My inner researcher brought me to play with options and create swatches of various mixed green. Finaly I was surprised how many of them I’ve got.

From inside of my limited palette I used following colors (White nights brand):

Yellow (PY154)

Cadmium Lemon (PY35)

Ultramarine (PB29)

Azure Blue (PB15:3, PG7)

Yellow Ochre (PY43, PY154)

Umber (PY43, PBr7, PBk7)

Ivory Black (PR102, PBk7)

OK, I have found something about pigments too. My inner researcher never sleeps 🙂 And yes, next time I will order colors with this in mind. But now, I work with what I have.

What do you think about the range of greens?

I love mixing yellow with the azure blue in both, light and dark values. Using ultramarine brings more olive tones, which is not bad as well, and to be honest, maybe more natural. But I still love the vibrant mix of the azure blue 🙂

Out of my expectation is the mix of azure blue with black. Such beautiful smoky blue-green! And useful as well. This one is highly placed on my preferences too.

How about you? How do you mix green if you do it? Any tips for a beginner like me? I would appreciate comments, sharing experience and a good advice.

Stay happy and creative!

Love, Ivana